1 Timothy 6:12 (MEV) says the following, “Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life, to which you are called and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.” In 2 Timothy 2:3 (Phillips), Paul writes, "Put up with your share of hardship as a loyal soldier in Christ’s army."
Faith is a fight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” The reason God’s Word tells us not to lean on our own understanding is because if we rely on our own reasonings, thoughts, and feelings, that is where Satan can defeat us. He defeats us in the realm of our reasoning.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV) says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Things will push against us. We can’t control everything that comes across our path. But we can control our response in the power of His Holy Spirit. Is it possible, as 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, to be pressed, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, and struck down, but not destroyed? Yes! Yes, it is.
Faith is what moves God. Without it, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). God does not respond to our bawling, squalling, and pleading. He responds to our faith. And faith is a choice. When negative or troublesome thoughts come contrary to the Word of God, we do as 2 Corinthians 10:5 (VOICE) tells us. We cast them down. “We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One.”
Hebrews 4:11 (KJ21) says something interesting. It says, “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall according to the same example of unbelief.” Labour to enter into rest? Sounds a bit counterintuitive, doesn’t it?
Why must we labour? Because as soon as we’ve entered into the rest of believing God’s Word, are fully persuaded that what He has promised He will perform (Romans 4:21), Satan will do everything to get us out of that rest. He knows if he can do that, he can steal our victory. How many healings, financial breakthroughs, deliverances have we allowed Satan to steal from us because we haven't held fast to the Word of God, but rather listened to the lies of the evil one?
When Satan attacks our thoughts and causes us to look at the contradictions, symptoms, and lack, we must examine our commitment to God and His Word. Are we a tiny bit persuaded, half persuaded, I’m getting there persuaded, I’m sleeping better at night persuaded, or fully persuaded God is faithful to His Word and will bring about what He has promised?
When we’re fully persuaded, then we’re at rest. Today, my friend, whatever you’re facing, whether it be poor health, fractured relationships, no money in your bank account, or the recent loss of a loved one, determine in your heart to be fully persuaded what God has promised He will do. Then enter His rest and stay there, unmovable, your feet forged in concrete, until your answer arrives.
Paul writes to Timothy, his son in the faith, “Constantly keep in mind Jesus Christ…risen from the dead…” (2 Timothy 2:8 AMPC). Paul wrote second Timothy from a dank prison cell shortly before his martyrdom. He knew the resurrection of Jesus was foundational to the faith. Why did he need to tell Timothy to constantly keep it in mind?
When Jesus rose from the dead and conquered the devil, He did it for us. As the Son of God, He wasn’t subject to sin, sickness, or poverty. He was not defeated. But you and I were. Jesus won the victory on our behalf and gave it to us. Just writing this makes my spirit rise. We need to constantly remember what Jesus accomplished when He came out of that tomb.
The Scripture tells us when Christ rose from the dead, we were raised up too. “He (God) took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah” (Ephesians 2:6 MSG). We became joint heirs with Jesus. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17 NIVUK).
When Jesus rose from the dead, the Father put all things (except Himself) under the feet of His Son. “All this will happen to fulfill the Scripture that says, ‘You placed everything on earth beneath His feet...” (1 Corinthians 15:27 VOICE). That means that all things are under our feet because we are in Christ Jesus.
God expects us to rule and reign in life. “If one man’s sin brought a reign of death--that’s Adam’s legacy—how much more will those who receive grace in abundance and the free gift of redeeming justice reign in life by means of one other man—Jesus the Anointed” (Romans 5:17 VOICE).
When we remember Jesus, risen from the dead, Satan can’t talk us out of our victory. We won’t believe him when he tells us we’re going to fail, our bills won’t be paid, we’re going to get sick and die. We’ll tell that old liar Jesus rose from the dead and won the victory. Defeat isn’t part of our vocabulary, because when push comes to shove, we remember Jesus, risen from the dead.
When John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, as Jesus came out of the water, His heavenly Father spoke these words, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
Jesus received His approval from the divine realm, not from this earth. He knew human beings are a fickle lot - supportive one day and opposing the next. Palm Sunday and the crucifixion the following Friday is a prime example of the changeability of people.
Jesus delighted in His Father’s approval. “I have come down from heaven not to pursue My own agenda but to do what He desires. I am here on behalf of the Father who sent Me” (Matthew 6:48 VOICE).
If we ask those around us what they think of us, we’ll get different answers, some positive, some negative. But as born-again believers, when we ask God what He thinks of us, these are some of the things He will tell us.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4 NLT).
“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows (Luke 12:7 NLT).”
“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter 2:9 MSG).
“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:15-16 NIV).
“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Your walls are always in my presence” (Isaiah 49:16 NOG).
Can you hear the approval of your heavenly Father in these words? Just as the Father spoke His approval over Jesus, He speaks it over you. “If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His” (Romans 8:17a VOICE). We are one with Jesus.
Meditate on the above Scriptures. Let them go down deep into your spirit. So, when Satan tells you you’re no good, your family background is lousy, you’ve done a rotten job of raising your children, you’re not as smart or educated as everyone else, tell him you’ve been approved. A stamp of approval rests on you – the stamp of the Most High God. You can’t get any better than that.
Turning Big Things Around
The first part of James chapter 3 talks about taming the tongue. He tells us the tongue is small, but it makes great boasts. It can corrupt the whole body, set the course of one’s life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. The small organ in our mouths can do a great deal of damage.
In James 3:3-4 NIV, the author wrote, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.”
The small bit in the horse's mouth and the compact rudder on the ship have the power to turn these large objects around. The horse and ship are going in one direction, but when employed, the bit and rudder turn them around.
James spoke about the tongue in a negative light. But there is a positive aspect of the tongue. We can take that small instrument in our mouths, speak the Word of God into whatever situation we are facing, and no matter how big it is, the Word of God will turn it around. God’s Word turns things around, no matter the size.
An interesting example of this is found in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. In 2 Samuel 11, we read of David committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband, Uriah killed in battle. Verse 27 says, “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”
We don’t know how much time passed between chapters 11 and 12. There is no account of David’s conscience smiting him, or of him repenting of his sin. All is silent. Then God sends the prophet Nathan to speak to David. Nathan tells David of a case that needs to be decided.
Two men lived in a certain town, one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had many sheep and cattle, but the poor man only had one ewe lamb, which he treated as a loved pet. A traveller came to the rich man, who wanted to provide a meal for his guest. But instead of taking a sheep from his own herd, he took the ewe lamb from the poor man.
David is incensed at Nathan’s words. His verdict is harsh. The man must pay for the lamb four times over and be killed. Then Nathan speaks the Word of God to David. He says:
“…You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes...” (2 Samuel 12:7-9 NIV).
In verse 13, David says, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Psalm 32 and 51 record David’s repentance. Psalm 32:5 NIV says, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.’”
The Word of God from Nathan went into the core of David’s being. Of course, he had a choice – to continue to hide his sin, or to repent. He chose to repent.
I used this example to show the power of God’s Word. With it, God turned around a grave situation. Biblical history would have been different if David had not repented. He would not have been a man after God’s heart.
Dear friend, whatever you are facing in your life, no matter how big it is, like the rudder of the ship, and the bit in the horse’s mouth, the Word of God has the power to turn it around.
Does He Hear?
Recently I read that when author and theologian Russell Moore visited the Russian orphanage where he adopted his boys, he noticed an eerie silence. He learned the babies had stopped crying because no one responded to their needs. Doesn’t that break your heart?
But I wonder, do you sometimes feel like those infants – that God doesn’t hear or respond to your cries, that He doesn’t care? Satan will try to tell you that’s the case. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are some Scriptures which tell us God does hear and answer prayer.
When we pray in the Name of Jesus and for the Father’s glory, He will hear and answer.
To pray in the Name of Jesus is to pray in accordance with the will of God. 1 John 5:14 NIV says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him."
2. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV).
Ask… seek… knock. In these verses, the intensity is increasing, going from asking to seeking to knocking. Jesus wants us to have passion, intensity, and persistence in prayer.
3. “Whenever you cry out to me, I’ll answer. I’ll be with you in troubling times. I’ll save you and glorify you” (Psalm 91:15 CEB).
We are to cry out to God in sincerity. He bears us up when we are in trouble and works things for our good.
To receive powerful things from God, we must believe He is able to perform them, and
know His response will be capable as well as loving. His answer might not be what we were expecting, but we can know it is good, because God is good.
Just one more verse before I close.
4. “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces” (Psalm 34:5 NLT).
When we look to the Lord, our faces will be covered with joy, not blushes.
So dear friend, as Winston Churchill once said, “Never give up, never give up, never give
up…” Don’t stop praying. God does hear and answer our prayers. He is faithful to His promises. He keeps His Word.
March is fast approaching, and the days are getting longer. There are more hours of daylight and I feel better. This made me think about light and its application to our lives, both physically and spiritually.
Scientists define light as a form of energy made of photons. It behaves as both a particle and a wave. Light moves at the fastest speed of the universe. In a vacuum, it travels at 186, 282 miles per second. It regulates the cycles of the oceans, the magnetic fields around the planet, warmth, and the weather. The sun’s light initiates the life-sustaining process of photosynthesis.
Light regulates our sleep/wake cycles, and it boosts Vitamin D in humans, which is important in the development of bones and teeth and can improve our resistance to certain diseases. Light fights off seasonal depression and helps us to focus.
Light was the initial step in the creation of the world. “…and God saith, 'Let light be;' and light is” (YLT). God IS light. “And this is the message which we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him — none!” (1 John 1:5 CJB).
God dwells in unapproachable light. “He alone has immortality, living in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen, nor can see. To Him be honor and everlasting power. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:16 MEV).
God is marvelous light. “However, you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 NOG).
Jesus is the light that gives light to every person. “The true light, coming into the world, gives light to every man” (John 1:9 TLV). Jesus called Himself the light of the world. “Then Jesus spoke again unto them, saying, I AM the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12 JUB). “…I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46).
As the Messiah, Jesus is a light for the Gentiles. “He says…I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6 NLT).
Light and life go together. “The Lord is my lightening, and mine health; whom shall I dread? The Lord is defender of my life; for whom shall I tremble [for whom shall I quake]? (Psalm 27:1 WYC). “His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light—” (John 1:4 VOICE). See also John 8:12 above.
How does God’s marvelous light apply to us today? Whatever we’re facing, we need to let the light of His word, His presence, and His love shine into our situation. If we walk in God’s light, we won’t stumble and fall. Jesus said, “Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light” (John 11:9-10 NIV).
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV).
Dear Lord Jesus, today, help me to look into the light of Your beautiful face. You are the answer for my every need.
I recently read there are two times when the devil attacks us – when we’re doing everything wrong and when we’re doing everything right.
Take the apostle Paul for instance. In Acts 27, as a prisoner, he was getting a free boat ride to Rome to stand before the emperor, courtesy of the Roman government. At a place called Fair Havens, he told the Roman officer over him it wasn’t a good idea to leave port at that time because it wasn’t safe. The captain of the ship didn’t care what Paul thought and sailed for open water.
You know the story. They ran into a hurricane force storm, were shipwrecked, and landed on the island of Malta. All 276 on the ship made it safely to shore. Just when it seemed everything was going well, while helping to build a fire, a snake bit Paul. Talk about having a bad day.
What did Paul do? He shook the viper off. Everyone watched to see what would happen to him. They thought he was a criminal who had escaped the sea, only to be punished by God through a snake bite. They were amazed when he didn’t swell up and die. They quickly changed their tune and said that rather than being a criminal, he must be a god (verse 6).
Be assured, dear friend, that when Satan bites you, people are watching. Will you swell up and die, or will you shake it off? Thoughts will swirl through your head. What am I going to do now? How will I survive? It’s what you do with those thoughts that’s important. Will you listen to the lies of Satan or stand on the Word of God?
Paul knew he served a God Who raises the dead. In 2 Corinthians he wrote, “In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9 NLT).
Don’t forget, the battle with Satan is fought in our minds. His goal is to silence us, wear us out, render us useless. BUT, “we are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours” (2 Corinthians 4:7 TPT).
Did you catch that? As born-again believers, God has deposited in us an “overflow of power” to be seen in our marriages, finances, homes, and relationships. Jesus has put His resources inside of us.
Don’t let Satan have his way in your life. When under attack, double up on the Word of God. Scuba divers have to equalize the pressure in their heads to counteract the pressure of the water when they go to different depths. We have to counteract the pressure of the devil by increasing the Word of God that’s inside us.
Paul wrote, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV).
So, when Satan sends a snake to bite you, stand on the Word of God. Continue to believe its truth when everything and everyone tells you you’re finished. Rise up in faith. Let God’s Word ascend within you to overcome Satan’s pressure. Don’t quit.
(Thank you to Dennis Burke of Dennis Burke Ministries in Arlington, Texas for ideas regarding this blog in his article, “Shake It Off!” in The Believer’s Voice of Victory, February, 2023 magazine, pages 22-24.)
Approximately thirty-five hundred years ago, God was arranging to rescue His people from Egyptian slavery. Exodus chapter 12 gives the account of the last plague inflicted on the Egyptians - the death of the firstborn son of every Egyptian family, including Pharaoh, as well as of the animals. “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord” (Exodus 12:12 NIV). After this occurred, Pharaoh told the Israelites to leave the country.
Afraid they would all die, the Egyptians urged the children of Israel to leave quickly. Moses instructed the people to ask them for articles of silver, gold, and clothing. “The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians” (Exodus 12:36 NIV).
In the above narrative, a divine transfer took place. Proverbs 13:22 CJB says, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren, but the wealth of a sinner is stored up for the righteous." The wealth of the Egyptians was transferred to the Israelites. It was wealth earned on the backs of Israelite slaves and God was giving it back to His people. The wealth provided provision for their journey, as well as the materials to build the Tabernacle in the wilderness.
There are other examples in the Bible of divine transfer. In the book of Nehemiah, we learn Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king (Artaxerxes 1 of Persia), living in exile. People arrived from Judah and told him the wall of Jerusalem, Nehemiah’s home city, was broken down and its gates burned.
Nehemiah mourned over what he heard and wanted to go back and rebuild the walls. But it seemed impossible. He didn’t have the funds, materials, or expertise. However, nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). God used a pagan king to provide Nehemiah with what he needed. The king allowed him to return home and wrote letters guaranteeing him safe passage and requesting the people of the land to provide the required materials. It should have taken Nehemiah years to rebuild the walls, but he did it in fifty-two days! I call that divine transfer – transfer of funds, favour, materials, and influence.
Then there’s the example of Ruth. In the book of her name, we read how she and her mother-in-law, Naomi, returned from Moab to Bethlehem in the land of Judah, widowed and poverty-stricken. Things looked pretty dismal. Naomi even told everyone not to call her by her given name, which means pleasantness, but by Mara, which means bitter.
But our God is the God of the impossible (Matthew 19:26). God provided a kinsman-redeemer in the person of Boaz, who not only provided for Ruth and Naomi, but married Ruth, and put her in the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah.
And when the children of Israel went into the Promised Land, God gave them “…cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant…” (Deuteronomy 6:10-11 NIV). Another example of divine transfer.
Why have I given you these examples? Because I want to encourage you. To remind you we serve a God Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places (Isaiah 45:3). There is nothing we require He cannot get to us. He’s promised to provide everything we need (Philippians 4:19). My prayer for 2023 is that we learn to trust Him for EVERYTHING.
More Than Enough
This year, Jewish people will commemorate Hanukkah from December 18 to December 26. I recently read about Hanukkah and would like to share what I learned with you.
In a time of war and occupation in the 2nd century BC, after three years of fighting with Syrian forces led by Antiochus lll, the Maccabees, Jewish fighters, regained control of the Temple Mount.
The Maccabees cleansed the Temple, dismantled the defiled altar, and constructed a new one. They held a dedication (Hanukkah) of the Temple with proper sacrifice and the rekindling of the golden menorah. For eight days they praised God that proper Jewish worship had been re-established.
For this particular Hanukkah, a miracle had occurred. After searching the Temple from top to bottom, they only found a small jar of oil for the menorah. There was barely enough to light the candelabra for one day, let alone eight. Miraculously, the oil lasted for the entire celebration.
There are examples in both the Old and New Testaments where God provided miraculously or multiplied resources. Abraham comes to mind. God provided a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns, for a sacrifice instead of his son, Isaac. Throughout their whole wilderness journey, God supplied manna supernaturally for His people to eat. And for the widow of Zarephath living in a famine, "...the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah" (1 Kings 17:16 NIV).
In the New Testament, Jesus fed the 5000 with five loaves and two fish, and 4000 with seven loaves and a few small fish. And after a day of preaching from a boat, Jesus told his disciple Peter to go out into deeper water for a huge catch of fish. Reluctantly, Peter agreed. The haul was so big, the nets threatened to break.
We should not be surprised at these examples. One of the Hebrew names for God is El Shaddai - God Almighty, the All-Sufficient One, the God of more than enough. Some scholars believe Shaddai is derived from the word shad, meaning breast. This refers to God as One Who is nourishing, satisfying, and supplying the needs of His people, such as a mother would do for her child.
At this Christmas season, we celebrate the provision of salvation God provided through His Son, Jesus. When we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, we have the hope of spending eternity in Heaven with Him. While we are here on earth, He has promised to supply our needs, whether they be physical, financial, emotional, or relational. "Know this: my God will also fill every need you have according to His glorious riches in Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King (Philippians 4:19 VOICE).
Today and everyday, be encouraged! You can trust God to take care of you. His provision is part of His Name.
Come Home To Hope
Christmas is just around the corner, and many will be returning home to spend time with family and friends. This year, no matter what your circumstances are, no matter what you are facing, whether it be a bad report from the doctor, botched relationships, a wayward child, or financial lack, I invite you to come home to hope.
The hope I’m talking about is not the world’s kind of hope. The wishing for something without any expectation that the hope will be fulfilled. No, what I’m talking about is Biblical hope - the confident expectation and certainty that what God has promised in His Word will come to pass. It’s having one’s neck outstretched in anticipation of the answer that’s on its way.
There are three aspects of hope I’d like to briefly examine.
Sometimes, when God’s promises are not coming to pass in my life as soon as I would like them to, I remind myself (and God) that He has promised I will NEVER be ashamed for trusting in Him.
So, my dear friend, no matter what you are facing today, plant your feet firmly on the promises of God. “Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True…” (italics mine Revelation 19:11 BSB). The God we serve is faithful and true. His promises will come to pass in your life.
In this Blog, I want to share with you some of the things I've learned from many years of following Jesus.